THE most successful Alaska player in franchise history believes this current batch of Aces have what it takes to duplicate the success of their predecessors in the glorious nineties.
Former Alaska superstar Jojo Lastimosa admitted this team is capable of dominating the PBA the way the Milkmen did during their time when he, Johnny Abarrientos, Bong Hawkins, Jeff Cariaso, and the venerable Tim Cone were still the nucleus of the squad.
Everything of course, depends on the attitude of the players and willingness to be part of the team-first philosophy, but following the Aces’ successful title-campaign in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Lastimosa has no doubt Alaska is on the right track.
“I believe that it depends on their work ethic – and how far they want to work hard together as a team. It all depends on that,” said Lastimosa as he joined his former team during its victory party at the Hard Rock Café in Makati on Sunday night after its three-game sweep of Ginebra in the Commissioner's Cup Finals.
“And if they have really good players and leaders, there’s no reason why they can’t duplicate what we did before.
“But this team has a lot of promise. They have good leaders in the team. I see a good run for this team in the next couple of years.”
Lastimosa certainly knows where he speaks of.
The native of Cagayan de Oro, 49, is the player with the most number of championships won in Alaska’s history. He was part of the franchise’s first title during the 1991 Third Conference and in all, won a total of 10 championships with the team including a Grand Slam in 1996 until his retirement in 2003.
Now part of the league broadcast team, Lastimosa has been in the PBA for so long that he’s bold enough to consider Alaska as the team likely to become the most dominant after Talk `N Text.
“Guess what. Talk `N Text is not going to be the same anymore. Kelly’s (Williams) not there and some guys are hurting. If Kelly was there, I could say Alaska could be at par with Talk `N Text,” stressed one of the 25 Greatest Players in PBA history.
“Right now, we have to give Alaska a little more credit. Because they’re as good as Talk `N Text when the Tropang Texters were winning championships,” added Lastimosa, who once served as Alaska assistant coach under Cone.
Named the 1988 Rookie of the Year, Lastimosa however, reminded the Aces to keep persevering and never be satisfied with what they have accomplished.
“This is their first win in a while. Sometimes when you win one, people will wait for you to win another one. Again, they have to prove that they can win another one,” said Lastimosa, who bared not seeing himself `coming back to the Alaska bench in the near future.’
“You can never be satisfied with one win. For me, I’ve always believed that winning is a habit.
“You cannot get used to winning and cannot be satisfied with one or multiple wins. You have to continue to improve every year,” he added.